Iga FC and AS Harima among Nadeshiko Division 1 teams advancing to the fourth round - Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship
11 December 2022
The third round of the Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship took place on Saturday 10 December. At Hyogo Prefectural Miki Disaster Management Park, three teams from the Nadeshiko League Division 1 and the only remaining high school team advanced to the fourth round.
Featured Match 1
Iga FC Kunoichi Mie 1-1 (0-0, 1-1, Ex:0-0, 0-0, PK:6-5) Ehime FC Ladies
The match between Iga FC Kunoichi Mie (Nadeshiko 1/Mie), who finished runners-up in the Nadeshiko League Division 1, and Ehime FC Ladies (Nadeshiko 1/Ehime), who finished 11th, was a close contest with scores coming from set plays.
Although Iga FC had the advantage in this season’s head-to-head record between the two sides, with a win and a draw, the match started with Ehime taking the initiative. In the 18th minute, the shot taken by FUJISAWA Nagomi struck the goal post, while the attempt made by SAKURAI Yuika at the end of the first half came close to finding the back of the net.
Ehime scored the opening goal from a corner kick delivered by OMIYA Hiro in the 56th minute. Although the ball was parried by Iga FC’s goalkeeper FUJITA Suzuka, HIRATSUKA Maki was there to convert the deflection.
After losing the lead, Iga FC changed their line-up and introduced OKINO Kurea in an effort to fight back. In the 83rd minute, NISHIBAYASHI Rie scored the equaliser following a free kick taken by MIYASAKO Tamami.
With no more goals being scored in the remainder of the second half and in extra time, the winner was determined by a penalty shootout, in which Iga FC won 6-5 to advance to the fourth round.
Featured Match 2
AS Harima Albion 2-0 (0-0, 2-0) Sakuyo High School
The match-up between AS Harima Albion (Nadeshiko 1/Hyogo), who finished third in the Nadeshiko League Division 1, and Sakuyo High School (Chugoku 4/Okayama), the only high school team to reach the third round, was a showdown between two female coaches, coach ONO Suzuka, a former player of AS Harima, and coach IKEDA Hiroko, who has turned Sakuyo High School into a high school powerhouse.
The match started with AS Harima taking the initiative with their potent offence, as the lobbing shot taken by CHIBA Sonoko in the ninth minute came within inches to find the back of the net, but her attempt was denied by the woodwork. In the fifteenth minute, Chiba was given another chance, but this time ISHIDA Koharu of Sakuyo High School blocked her shot. The high school team, led by their first-year goalkeeper ISHIDA Hinaha, displayed excellent focus and composure to prevent AS Harima from scoring, as the match remained scoreless at the break.
INOWAKI Akane was introduced by AS Harima's coach Ono in the second half in an effort to diversify their offence. This substitution paid off in the 69th minute when Chiba's goal was assisted by a cross from Inowaki. Eight minutes later, TAKEDA Yuki, who had also been used as a substitute in the second half, assisted the goal of YOSHIDA Shiho to increase their advantage.
Despite the late surge of Sakuyo High School, AS Harima managed to keep the clean sheet to win the match 2-0 and advance to the fourth round.
Coaches and Players' Comments
FW #11 OGAWA Shiho (Iga FC Kunoichi Mie)
We were put in a difficult situation by our opponents in the first half, but the players fought through it. Although we failed to capitalise on the chances created in the second half and extra time, I am glad that we were able to win at the end. We had four players testing positive for COVID-19 (four days before the match), but the players who are here covered for each other to earn this victory. We want to fight as hard as we can because the upcoming match against Chifure AS Elfen Saitama (WE/Saitama) is going to be a great opportunity to test our abilities.
TOKUNAGA Takanobu, Coach (Ehime FC Ladies)
We regret not taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us in the first half when we controlled possession of the ball. We came into this match prepared to play through extra time, so we're disappointed that we lost. Despite losing some of our key players this season due to COVID-19, we were able to control the ball against a strong Iga FC team, and I am hopeful that the development of our younger players will result in a better season next year.
FW #7 INOWAKI Akane (AS Harima Albion)
Although the first half was challenging, I knew that a goal would help us turn things around, so I entered the game with the intention of scoring a goal. (Reflecting on her assist) I knew Chiba would make a run in front of the goal, so I trusted her and delivered a cross. I am glad it went in. We must strive to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us because I am sure that we will have fewer chances in the upcoming Hyogo derby against INAC Kobe Leonessa (WE/Hyogo).
IKEDA Hiroko, Coach (Sakuyo High School)
The players understood that our opponents’ formation and approach to the match was going to be key, and they put forth a lot of effort to keep the score at 0-0 in the first half. However, we failed to keep up with our opponents’ speed down the line, which cost us a goal. Despite the outcome of the match, I am grateful that the players stuck with our football style until the end. Through this tournament, we were able to project a positive image of our selves ahead of the All Japan High School Women's Soccer Tournament, so we hope to build on this experience to improve the team.
Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship
Tournament Duration: Sat. 26 November 2022 - Sat. 28 January 2023
【1st Round】Sat. 26, Sun. 27 November
【2nd Round】Sat. 3, Sun. 4 December
【3rd Round】Sat. 10, Sun. 11 December
【4th Round】Sat. 17, Sun. 18 December
【Quarterfinals】Sun. 15 January 2023
【Semi-Finals】Sun. 22 January 2023
【Final】Sun. 28 January 2023
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